Refuse the Breath Test!!

I challenge the Dec. 6 Columbus Dispatch editorial demanding that the penalties for refusing a blood-alcohol breath test be toughened up. There are several reasons for my position.

First, alcohol breath tests are highly unreliable. Countless forensic journals have reported that the scientific basis for them is flawed. Further, the procedure in Ohio for keeping them in good working order is inadequate.

Second, because of the inherent unreliability of the breath test, the National Safety Council unanimously recommended many years ago that two separate tests be conducted several minutes apart to validate the result. Ohio's representative to the National Safety Council voted for the passage of this measure. This procedure is in effect in many states, but it never has been adopted in Ohio.

Third, incredibly, jurors are not permitted to be told the truth about the scientific flaws in the breath testing system and, therefore, are not able to reach an informed decision about the validity of the test given to the accused.

Finally, and tragically, when an accused does cooperate with the police, as you suggest, takes the test and passes it, he or she will be charged with the drunken-driving offense anyway! Is that fair and just?

If our government is truly seeking truth and justice, how about a law that prohibits the police from charging the accused if he or she passes the test? Would that not be a fair way to treat a person who is falsely accused?

This year, my law office represented a young lady who was stopped by a law-enforcement officer, clearly passed one of the coordination tests, was taken to the police station, where she passed not one but two chemical tests, one breath and one urine!

Even though she cooperated with the officer throughout the course of the detention, she was arrested, charged with drinking and driving and taken to jail, where she spent the night.

My office has handled many cases with facts similar to this, although this is clearly the most egregious. Is this what The Dispatch and the Ohio legislature feel is a fair and just way to treat citizens who have not violated the law?

Jurors should be told how faulty the science is that is utilized by breath-testing devices, and until these machines become accurate indicators of a person's alcohol level, the people of our great state should have the absolute right to refuse to be victimized by them.